Year of Publication

2009

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Engineering

Department

Electrical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Zhi Chen

Abstract

In this dissertation, three types of microfabricated solid-state sensors had been designed and developed on silicon wafers, aiming to detect hydrogen gas at elevated temperatures. Based on the material properties and sensing mechanisms, they were operated at 140°C, 500°C, and 300°C. The MOS-capacitor device working at 140°C utilized nickel instead of the widely-used expensive palladium, and the performance remained excellent. For very-high temperature sensing (500°C), the conductivity of the thermally oxidized TiO2 thin film based on the anodic aluminum oxide (AAO) substrate changed 25 times in response to 5 ppm H2 and the response transient times were just a few seconds. For medium-high temperatures (~300°C), very high sensitivity (over 100 times’ increment of current for H2 concentration at 10 ppm) was obtained through the reversible reduction of the Schottky barrier height between the Pt electrodes and the SnO2 nano-clusters. Fabrication approaches of these devices included standard silicon wafer processing, thin film deposition, and photolithography. Materials characterization methods, such as scanning electron microscopy (SEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), surface profilometry, ellipsometry, and X-ray diffractometry (XRD), were involved in order to investigate the fabricated nano-sized structures. Selectivities of the sensors to gases other than H2 (CO and CH4) were also studied. The first chapter reviews and evaluates the detection methodologies and sensing materials in the current research area of H2 sensors and the devices presented this Ph.D. research were designed with regard to the evaluations.

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